Virtual Reality Church Review

Book Review: 

What does technology tell us about Christ and his church? In Virtual Reality Church, Darrell L. Bock and Jonathan J. Armstrong help us see the different pitfalls and possibilities of technology and the local church.

The New Roman Road

The Internet is the new Roman Road. The Internet shapes and influences our society. It impacts our lives. New media changes the way we communicate. Taking a cue from The Great Commission, the book challenges us to see the “missional potential” in our technologies. The virtual world is a mission field.

This book sees technology and revivalism as connected to Christianity. Tradition and innovation are examined, concluding that the best traditions are not static. Instead, they give fresh life – and the best innovations are always anchored in tradition. As Facebook and YouTube entered the scene, it is clear that social technology was changing our lives. The Coronavirus caused us all to see how the church could assemble virtually for a short time.

Is God Present in Virtual Reality?

Looking at VR allows us to see the ways it is unique from other technologies. It allows for experiences that would be unsafe, expensive, or impossible. In VR, the user is not a spectator - but a participant. Cross-cultural communication becomes a possibility. However, there are also drawbacks to the virtual world. While simulating sense experience, it cannot directly present abstract concepts. Real-life surroundings disappear. Users are disidentified, but users are not anonymous.

I was most challenged when the book asked, “Is God present in virtual reality?” The answer is that yes, God is still ever-present. All reality is God’s reality. So the way that we use technology matters. The book also looks at the incarnation and how that should impact our understanding of virtual reality. One truth that emerges is that humans are more than our physical bodies. No matter the medium of our communication, the Holy Spirit ushers us as a community into the presence of God.

Change in the Local Church

The local church and its practices – specifically the Lord’s Supper and baptism – are brought to the forefront. Christian charity will need to be employed as different churches hold to different convictions. Wisdom says that we do not want to minimize and misconstrue the spiritual significance of these sacrements.

Change will happen in the church. Technology such as virtual reality will continue to come. But Christ – and our mission – does not change. Technology cannot save us. Jesus saves us from our sins, bringing us in to his kingdom reality.

I received a media copy of Virtual Reality Church and this is my honest review.